11 Sep 2012

Defector was helped by France

3:29 pm on 11 September 2012

A defector from the regime of Bashar al-Assad says France helped him escape from Syria.

General Manaf Tlas said in Paris on Monday that said French special forces helped him escape in July.

The 48-year-old was speaking to interviewers from BBC Arabic and BFMTV, a French news channel.

He urged his former friend President Assad to give up power not just for Syria's sake, but for that of his family.

General Tlas formerly commanded the 10th Brigade of the Republican Guard.

His father, Mustafa Tlas, served as defence minister for 30 years and was a confidant of Hafez al-Assad, the president's late father and predecessor.

His sister, the widow of a Saudi arms dealer, lives in France.